With the re-opening of non-essential retail, I took the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the local businesses/business owners that make our vibrant community such a fantastic place to live and work.
The easing of national Government restrictions marks an important point in our recovery - our community and high street have so much to offer, so for six weeks I showcased the stores, restaurants, cafes, and other small businesses that make Tooting what it is!
A huge thank you to every single business, business owner, employee, and customer who got behind the campaign. The past year has been challenging, so to see our community come together to support the local economy has been truly heartwarming.
While this week marks the final instalment (for now) of Spotlight Saturdays, I will continue to find new ways to shine a bright light on Tooting and our wonderful community.
Wandsworth is in the top 5 for vaccination rates across London!
This is a great step forward and I am proud of everyone here in Tooting who has taken the steps to protect themselves and others by receiving their jab. However, we still have a way to go before everyone is protected against coronavirus. We need to keep pushing to ensure that those who can do so, are vaccinated as soon as possible.
Information on how to book your vaccination appointment can be found here. It is also vital that if, for any reason, you have to change or cancel your vaccine appointment that you let the GP surgery or vaccination centre that you appointment is booked with know. You can manage your vaccination appointment here.
If you are still unsure about having the jab or have any questions, more information can be found on the vaccine and answers to many common concerns on Wandsworth Council’s website here.
I was deeply concerned - as I know many local residents were - to hear of plans to close Balham station to outward passengers from next Monday until December 2021.
While I recognise the scheduled repairs to the escalator are essential works, it is important to me that residents are not inconvenienced by the planned updates. Indeed, I also appreciate that it was alarming for many to learn that the closure was to begin in less than a week, lasting for such an extended period of time.
It is my understanding that the decision to close Balham station to outward travelling passengers was taken after a trial closure of the downward escalator indicated that use of the staircase at peak travel times was resulting in over-crowding and therefore social distancing was difficult.
I called a meeting with Transport for London to outline my concerns and discuss alternatives, such as more staff at the station to support social distancing at peak travel times. I am pleased to announce that as a result of this meeting, TfL have agreed to undertake a week-long trial at Balham Station, which will see the staircase open for use throughout the day and outward travel therefore possible from the station.
The trial will commence on Monday 28th June and last 3-4 days. Following the trial, TfL will assess whether outward travel from Balham during the planned escalator repairs is viable.
During this time - and beyond should the trial prove successful - I would recommend additional time is allowed for travel through Balham Station. By doing so, we increase the likelihood of a successful trial. More importantly, we can all play our part to ensure all residents can travel safely.
Please check back for further updates on this situation.
The work of biomedical scientists and laboratory staff is incredibly valuable - and this has never been clearer than since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. Often overlooked as a profession, I was pleased to join others in thanking those working in healthcare sciences.
For every coronavirus test conducted, a biomedical scientist has been behind it, working hard to ensure PCR tests are returned safely.
I would like to thank, in particular, our incredible microbiology team at St George’s. Working in A&E, I know just how much our NHS relies on the incredible efforts of lab staff.
I have included photos of the microbiology team at St George’s, featuring Chris James, a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in Biochemistry who has worked at St George’s for 9 years, and Silva, a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in Medical Microbiology and Virology who has worked St George’s Hospital for the past 4 years, after moving to the UK from Portugal.
Silva’s words about her work as a biomedical scientist are impactful and I hope everyone is able to recognise the incredible work they do. “Being a biomedical scientist is an extremely impactful role in healthcare. Even though it’s not patient facing, our work and the speed and accuracy with which we can produce results is essential for patient care.”
As you will no doubt be aware, the Covid-19 situation remains serious, with the Delta variant spreading rapidly throughout the country.
One of the most important steps we can take to stop the spread of the coronavirus is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. For this reason, a range of walk-in vaccination sites have been launched across South West London.
People aged over 18 are invited to drop into the Tooting and Mitcham United F.C. vaccination centre on Saturday 19th or Sunday 20th 9am - 8pm, to receive their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Unvaccinated over 40s and over 40s who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before mid-April can also head down to the Roehampton Vaccination Centre, located in the Queen Mary’s Hospital car park, on Sunday between 8am and 7.45pm to receive their second dose.
Together we can stop the spread of Covid-19.
Details of additional walk-in vaccine centres in South West London are available here.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting the impressive walk-in vaccine clinic, based at St Boniface Church on Mitcham Road.
It was great to have the opportunity to speak with their incredible team of staff and volunteers, as well as meet local residents receiving their coronavirus vaccines. In partnership with NHS England, to date Pearl Chemist have administered over 30,000 doses of the vaccines. This is an incredible achievement and a real credit to our community.
For local residents aged 40+ who have not yet had their first vaccination, the AstraZeneca vaccine is available at the Pearl Chemist clinic on Mitcham Road. You can also receive your second dose (eight weeks after your first dose) if you are in cohorts 1-9. Simply bring along your card!
All other age groups can book their doses via the NHS website here.
As a reminder, before you receive your vaccine, it is important to have eaten and be hydrated.
With coronavirus cases in Wandsworth rising, it has never been more important to ensure you are fully vaccinated as soon as possible. By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself, but your community too.
Last week, along with Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, I was fortunate to visit Heathmere School - a local primary supported by the fantastic mental health charity, Place2Be.
It was a wonderful opportunity to hear how Heathmere is promoting positive mental wellbeing for pupils, as well as learn more about the range of support Place2Be provides for schools across Wandsworth and the rest of the UK.
During the visit, we heard first-hand from pupils who have benefitted from Heathmere’s whole school approach to mental health and Place2Be’s support. In addition, we were able to meet with Heathmere’s Headteacher, Emma Lewis, Place2Be’s Area Manager for South West London, Khalad Musse, and Place2Be’s Chief Executive Catherine Roche to discuss children’s mental health.
It is so important that we shine a spotlight on the incredible work organisations, such as Place2Be, are doing to support children and young people. As we move beyond the pandemic, it is vital that we dedicate our care and attention to listening to young people to understand how we can best support them.
Local favourite Mixed Blessings - our very own West Indian bakery on Mitcham Road - will soon be blessed with its very own blue plaque!
The plaque will mark and celebrate TMC Studios (Tooting Music Centre), the recording studio that was once based above the bakery and frequented by glam rockers and reggae artists - local legend has it that Bob Marley scrawled his signature on a wall.
It is so important that we shine a spotlight on Tooting’s rich musical roots and diverse cultural heritage. I will certainly be there later this summer when the plaque is revealed to share the love.
A number of dogs have been reportedly infected with canine parvovirus on Tooting Common in recent times.
Dog owners may be well aware that parvovirus is a highly infectious condition spread through contaminated faeces of affected dogs, and it can remain active in the environment for up to nine months. The virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to a dog or puppy becoming very weak and dehydrated. Sadly, many little pups do not recover.
Thankfully, there are a number of steps that dog owners can take to protect their furry friends:
Prevent your dog from meeting with other dogs to stop the spread of infection
Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date
Notify your vet immediately if your dog displays any worrying symptoms.
Click here to learn more about canine parvovirus.
Good news - the Food Bus is coming to Tooting!
The Food Bus – a converted bus stocked with affordable, healthy food – aims to improve Wandsworth residents’ access to fresh produce, while reducing the burden on household budgets. Much of its stock is obtained from retailers’ surpluses, and an ordinary shopping basket of goods will be available at a fraction of the normal price.
The bus also features an on-board café. Head on down to All Saints Church on Brudenell Road on Thursday 10 June between 10:30am to 2:30pm to experience this wonderful initiative for yourself.